This brief was developed in response to a call from the House of Commons Finance Committee as they undergo a review process of Canada's charitable sector and the tax laws that govern the sector. Recommendations range from the creation of a government appointed Ambassador of Philanthropy, creating clearer legislation around "reasonable profit" and social enterprise, and addressing the inconsistencies in the T3010 tax filing that do not address the critical information that donors need in order to make informed charitable decisions.
Summer Time is Planning Time - Update on Dexterity Consulting and it's Parent Company - Dexterity Ventures Inc.Posted July 15th, 2011 by Gena Rotstein
Dexterity Consulting is just going through its annual strategic planning review and stakeholder engagement. As a reader of this blog your ideas, suggestions, input is welcome so that we can provide even better service to our clients.
Earlier this month the charitable sector has once again been under scrutiny... First with the CBC Marketplace Report - Canadian Cancer Society Spends more on Fundraising than on Research then the CTV report on charity CEO compensation. What these two stories have in common is perceived lack of trasparency around how money is being raised, spent, and social issues addressed.Read more »
I sat down with Mr. Hotchkiss 3 years ago and interviewed him about his philanthropy. I am re-posting the blog post here today in memory of an extraordinary man who was a committed member of Calgary's community as well as an integral part of Canada's fabric. Read more »
Guest blogger – Karine Aviv
Ever since I started working in this sector, I’ve been hearing a lot about fraud. This is a great concern, because as someone who donates money to charities, I want to know that it is being put to good use, and not going into someone’s personal pocket. So, what is really going on?
The past few weeks have seen several different reports on Trends in Philanthropy for 2011. A few months ago I shared my thoughts on what the next couple of years will hold - here are the two most recent blog posts on this topic:
@consciousgovern Brought to my attention on his latest Twitter post this article from the Wall Street Journal on how one group of charitable investors are trying to help organizations who have been affected by the Madoff Ponzi Scheme.
The article states that people's confidence in fundraising is at an all time low. I wonder how much this confidence is influenced by the media and how much is people actually choosing to cut their philanthropy. What I have noticed with my clients is that they are not cutting the dollar value of the gifts, rather they are cutting the number of organizations that are recieving those donations.
What are your thoughts? How would you like to see the organizations that you support address the current financial market?
If anyone is doing well these days - I think it is the Veterinarians. Why? Because my 9 year old Lab just had surgery and between that, the special food, the tests, the post surgery visits and the "little extras" this minor day surgery is not so minor. So, in difficult financial times, I advise going to Vet School. If nothing else, people will always have pets that they consider part of their family! Oh - she's doing well and other than walking around dazed and confused - she will be fine.
On to the topic for today -
My post leads off with a personal request - check out Denise Deveau's article in the Financial Post, Spirit of Giving May Be Cautiously Strong. Denise interviewed several Canadians who are working in the charitable sector as advisors and she presents an optimistic view of where things are headed for the sector.
I was listening to CBC's The Current and Anna Maria Tremonti, the host was interviewing three gentlemen who work in the financial sector as analysts, economists and advisors. At one point during the interview the charitable sector came up as to how foundations are cutting back and corporations are cutting back and woe to the non-profit organizations that are seeking funding. I got to thinking, is this really the case? Should it be woeful to be in the charitable sector right now?
Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great (which you can order through this website be clicking here - makes a great gift!), that the corporate world could take a page out of the non-profit sector book. Here are, for all intents and purposes, businesses, that are forced to be innovative because they run on shoe-string budgets. You wouldn't see the United Way going to either the American or Canadian governments seeking a bailout because of mismanagement, poor planning and lack of innovation. In fact, my hunch is that if one of the largest charities in North America were faced with that dilemma the donors would probably hunker down and ask the tough questions (which, if they were good donors they would have been doing all along - SHOW ME THE MONEY? Where did you spend it? How did you spend it? What impact has been achieved?).
As I write this, perhaps our own government should look at what happens when charities fail. There is so much duplication of services in the charitable sector that shrinkage is actually a good thing. As long as it is controlled shrinkage. What do I mean by this? If donors were to start giving as investments into organizations that not only have fancy marketing materials but rather, into charities that may or may not have that budget, but have proven results the sector would be running more efficiently, more effectively and as a result with greater synergies between organizations, partners, corporations, government and individuals (users and donors).
I cannot tell the future, but what I can say is that this too shall pass. Hopeful charities have learned from their mistakes and will start examining the "turf issues" that have cropped up over the past decade or so (since the last major boom) and decide if having 50 organizations in one city dealing with homelessness is really the best use of donor dollars, government resources and corporate sponsorship.
As donors and community investors, it is your time to lead the way by holding these organizations accountable and asking if there are others who are doing the same thing but better.
Check out this link for answers to the question about what donors are thinking of charitable fundraising tactics.
"As a donor to charity, what do we nonprofits do that REALLY annoys the tar out of you?" This question was posed my Marc Pitman.
While you are on LinkedIn, check out the group Generating Social Capital. A very interesting gathering of people trying to foster social change.
Finally, a few words on last nights speech by Barak Obama as it pertains to social change and social capital. Here is a man who, for the first time since I have been engaged on the periphery of politics, actually moved me and made me believe in what he said. Most importantly that he will deliver. I have pulled out an excerpt from his speech that speaks to the generative changes that his government intends to make.
This past week I have been in NYC. Everywhere I went I asked people thoughts about the election. One person's response was to ask me why I was interested. The importance of this election does not simply impact the lives of Americans, this election and the policies that come out of it will directly impact the lives of Canadians, Afghanis, Iraqis, Africans, Chinese, Israelies, Russians... the globe. I know for this Canadian, the need for change is desperate, change in environmental standards and policies, change in foreign policies, change in economic policies.
As the American economy sinks further, the Canadian economy is also slowing. This in turn can have major effects on charitable investments and the services that our non-profit organizations provides; as part of the social safety-net, as part of the cultural activities, as part of the educational opportunities provided and as part of the environmental securities we seek out.
Obama's platform is all about social change. Hopefully his fiscal policies will reflect generating social capital to assist in that change.
Here is the excerpt from his speech. The whole version can be found on his website - Barak Obama.
...What is that promise?
It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.
It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.
Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.
Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.